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Published: 20 Jan 2015

RBS, Finalist 2014, The DTCC Best for Innovation Award

RBS is a UK centred bank and is committed to flexible working, understanding that it brings with it customer and business benefits as well as helping individual employees achieve a good work–life fit. But in order to ensure that its flexible working programmes were successful, RBS realised that it needed to help employees feel confident in requesting flexible working, and managers to be skilled and equally confident in how they handled requests and managed flexible workers.

Rather than address the issue passively by developing materials that just sat on the intranet and in handbooks, RBS has developed a flexible working one-stop shop called ‘Our Choice Portal’. This is a clearly signposted destination where employees and managers can find out everything they need to know about all the different types of flexible working. It includes an interactive suitability checklist that employees can use to ascertain whether their roles are suitable for the type of flexible working they’re interested in and if not, which alternatives could work. It provides guidance on the various things people need to consider for different types of flexible working, and ensures that employees understand all the aspects that combine to make a successful flexible working arrangement. In this way, when they talk to their line manager, they are fully prepared and have thought about the business case for their request. This section of the website links to an online flexible working request form that the member of staff can submit to his or her line manager. The result has been that requests are becoming more about an adult dialogue between the member of staff and the manager, with both parties being comfortable with an informal approach.

RBS also provides tools for line managers to enable them to manage flexible teams and handle requests to work flexibly more efficiently. Support and guidance are available for topics such as getting the most from a meeting discussing a flexible working request, and how to manage a team working flexibly.

Flexibility in teams is also covered. Those who want to introduce flexibility in their teams, whether to promote working pattern flexibility, or to introduce more home working and desk sharing, are able to access support and guidance. Teams who are already working flexibly are able to find out how to maintain this approach, through guidance on managing cover, and using technology and e-learning modules on flexible working.

The Choice portal is well used, and has exceeded its initial targets. Launched via RBS’s employee networks, there have been over 30,000 page views. RBS plans to continue development of the portal, and to cross-link it more widely in internal bank communications.